STATEMENT OF THE PRIME BISHOP ON THE CONTINUING DISASTERS IN THE COUNTRY

Last month, August 2015, typhoon Ineng battered Northern Luzon. While approaching the region, it dumped heavy rains for several days and then came in with sustained winds of 140 kms per hour resulting in landslides in already sodden upland villages, causing death to 15 people and forcing thousands to flee their homes. The amount of rains that the typhoon unloaded swelled the rivers and other waterways resulting in the destruction of bridges and irrigation systems while flooding agricultural lands in lower lying areas.

Today, the 9th of September, PAG-ASA reported that dry spell starts this month, with most provinces in the country expected to experience up to 60% below-normal rainfall. This will accordingly result in moderate to severe drought for the next four months at a time when our farmers are expecting the rains to water their crops. What last month’s rains have not finished in our agricultural production will be scorched by this long dry spell.

As expressed in countless times, all these extreme weather disturbances have become the new normal and we need to brace ourselves as the phenomenon even worsens. But while indeed we need to adapt to these changing conditions, more importantly we need to continually point out that these destructive weather patterns are the results of humanity’s folly and insistence on going against the Divine laws of nature. Certainly, the mountains come tumbling down as we have cleared them of vegetation and reduced their natural holding capacities. Certainly, massive flooding happens as rain waters no longer seep into the soil but are un-naturally diverted into waterways that are often full of siltation and could no longer allow the easy flow of the high water volume. In the cities, these waterways have been the dumping site for garbage and can easily overflow even with just an hour’s continuous raining. We could go on and on to cite what we have done and continue to do to bring about the scary weather conditions.

It is also very unfortunate that when natural disasters occur and massive destruction is incurred by affected communities in this country, there are quarters who rejoice and look at the events as opportunities to earn a windfall from government projects and contracts. There will be disaster fund allocations that will go to the rehabilitation of infrastructures that were easily damaged simply because of below-standard works in the first place.

The 5th Mark of our Mission as a Church is to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. It is this Mission imperative which continually impels us to speak against the continuing assault on creation such as mining, logging and similar extractive activities that bore into or flatten mountains and denude forests. We also raise our continuing concern over the increasing use of fossil fuel as well as chemical and toxic materials that poison and un-naturally warm our planet. We denounce the insatiable quest for profit at the expense of the environment by big corporate interests as well as opportunistic government officials and contractors. We need to continually bring to the fore that these activities and interests are largely contributory to last month’s typhoon destruction in Northern Luzon as well as the droughts that we expect in the coming months in the whole country.

We find comfort in prayer that the forthcoming dry months will not be so much damaging to people. As we seek Divine guidance and intervention, we call on all our members to continue exercising faithful stewardship and protection of creation. Each of us have a role and a valuable contribution to making this earth a better place.

THE MOST REV. RENATO M. ABIBICO
Prime Bishop

ECP National Office
Quezon City
9th September 2015